“Boards of Directors/Trustees include women, but top ballet company Board leadership remains largely male.”

June 25, 2019, Northfield Illinois Dance Data Project® (DDP), https://www.dancedataproject.com, today announced a comprehensive study of the gender distribution of chairs and executive committees of the Top 50 ballet companies in the United States. DDP surveyed 48 of the nation’s 50 largest ballet companies and found that women make up 54 percent of the entire sample’s executive committees (or equivalent) and 44 percent of the sample’s board chairs. However, when it comes to the nation’s largest and most prestigious companies, DDP’s research reveals great inequities still exist in board leadership roles. Seven out of 10 board chairs are male at the 10 largest ballet companies as of June 15, 2019.

Dance Data Project® launched earlier this year to address gender inequities in leadership positions and pay in the country’s 50 largest ballet companies. Although women are the economic drivers of ballet at every level, few career avenues exist for them in ballet beyond dancing or teaching. DDP’s fourth research report shows that gender inequities also exist on the boards, especially among the top companies.

“Unfortunately, our research has revealed that the top ten largest and richest ballet companies in America are doing the least in terms of women sitting at the head of the table in board meetings. DDP also discovered that in the rosters for the top ten companies, the majority of the executive committee was male, with only two exceptions,” said DDP President and Founder Elizabeth Yntema.

Houston Ballet and Miami City Ballet were the only top 10 companies that listed a female board chair and a female majority executive committee. Within the entire sample, 11 companies had female chairs and female majority executive committees. These companies were: Colorado Ballet (male and female chairs), Atlanta Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Ballet Austin, Charlotte Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and Oklahoma City Ballet. Additionally, three companies, BalletMet, Ballet Memphis, and Smuin Ballet had exclusively female executive committees or equivalent. Sarasota Ballet of Florida had the largest male majority on its executive committee. Eighty percent were men. They are followed closely by Ballet West, Dayton Ballet, Ballet Arizona, Sacramento Ballet, and California Ballet which were all 75 percent male.

Mid-level ballet companies appear most equitable. DDP examined a sample of 30 ballet companies with yearly expenses of $3.9 to $13.2 million. In this category, 57 percent of the board chairs were women, while 36 percent were men. Seven percent were either unlisted or a male/female team, as is the case for Colorado Ballet and Nevada Ballet Theatre.

Nonprofit organizations have a long history of board inequity. This was noted as far back as 2011, when the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network shared key findings of The White House Project in their article Women, Leadership, and the Nonprofit Sector.  Their research revealed while women hold 43 percent of nonprofit board memberships overall, they hold only 33 percent of memberships on boards of nonprofits with annual revenues of $25 million or more.

“The big picture may suggest parity, but closer examination of the larger organizations within the sector reveals reoccurring bias,” said Yntema. “This mirrors what DDP’s overall research shows regarding the top 50 ballet companies.” As always, DDP will update rosters as the boards transition in early July 2019 and will maintain a record of board activity throughout the upcoming ballet season. For the complete 2019 research calendar, please visit the DDP Research Release Schedule on our Research page.

Read the full report here.